In her comfy cottage nestled in the Derbyshire hills, Rosie Hopkins has good reason to feel a warm blush in her cheeks. With Christmas weeks away, the holiday is being ushered in with England’s first glorious snowfall of the season. Her boyfriend, Stephen, is starting his new job as a teacher in the village school. Her quaint Hopkins’ Sweetshop and Confectionery has been restored to its former glory, and she has a lovable mop of a new puppy named Mr Dog. Most joyous of all, Rosie’s and Stephen’s relatives will finally be gathering together in Lipton for what is sure to be a merry feast.
But when a devastating tragedy strikes at the heart of the close-knit town, plans for a cozy Christmas are suddenly in danger of melting away. It’s going to take Rosie’s indomitable spirit, the embrace of family and friends, and the resilient goodwill of a community to turn it all around and make this a holiday to be thankful for.
First published: 2013
Publisher: William Morrow
**I received a copy of the book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review**
I love Christmas, and I love Jenny Colgan’s books. I haven’t read all of them, but I’ve gotten through quite a few of them over the years, including Rosie Hopkins’ Sweetshop of Dreams, which is the first book in the Rosie Hopkins series. When I was asked if I wanted to read the Christmas sequel, how could I say no?
Truth be told, Rosie Hopkins’ Sweetshop of Dreams is probably one of my least favourite Jenny Colgan books. For some reason, I didn’t connect with the characters as much as I did with her other books. I did still like it, though, and it was fun to return to them in Christmas at Rosie Hopkins’ Sweetshop. While I still didn’t fully connect with Rosie and Stephen, I did enjoy seeing them in a Christmassy setting.
The story is set about a year after the events of the first book, I think, and it starts with the first snow of the season blanketing the streets and fields of Lipton. Very picturesque, but it also brings a lot of problems with it in this small-town community. In fact, pretty early on in the book, a big accident happens. I’m not going to say what happens exactly, but I will say that a few important characters are involved. It’s an awful thing in itself, but it also leaves a lot of problems in its wake, most of which Rosie has to deal with.
That was the thing that surprised me most: for a Christmas novel within a genre that’s usually quite fluffy, this one was rather dark. It didn’t feel very Christmassy for most of the story and I was slightly disappointed by that. I was ready to get entirely in the Christmas spirit, but this story was mostly about Rosie dealing with her problems, most of which I wasn’t that interested in. Her relationship problems were quite dull to me, and also a little exasperating. That is not to say that I didn’t like the novel; it just wasn’t the Christmas story I expected. It did have some truly heartwarming moments, though, which I definitely enjoyed.
The most interesting part of the story, to me, was Lilian’s story. Lilian is Rosie’s great aunt – the reason why she came to Lipton in the first place – and she’s a fascinating character, much more so than Rosie herself. She has her own storyline in the first book, set in the past, and that past resurfaces in this novel. I must say, Lilian’s story did feel a little like it was just meant to please the fans (or the author herself), but it fit lovely with the Christmas story, and it didn’t end in a sickly sweet manner, which I was a little afraid of at first.
Overall, I did enjoy reading Christmas at Rosie Hopkins’ Sweetshop, but it wasn’t a very memorable novel. A solid three stars, I’d say. I ended up giving it 4 stars on Goodreads at first (I have since changed it to 3), which was probably because of my love for Christmas. I read the book on a very Christmassy day (see the video above) and I think the atmosphere elevated my spirits more so than the book itself.